Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Already

Summer Already
acrylic on matboard, 8x10 inches

Yep. Took a while to get here, but here it is, summer.

This is the same tree as yesterday's, from a slightly different angle-- and with color! I'd saved the greys I mixed up yesterday (Masterson's palette seal really does work!). I added some quin red, ultramarine, and Hansa yellow, mixed up a range of greens, used the red with some of the green and some blue to create the underlying trunk color. The greys toned the other colors. There's a bit of red is for eye relief, but it also went into some subtle violets that complement the yellows.

At first, I had to think a lot doing this. Then it just started happening; the picture took over. Another step on the way. Nothing spectacular about this tree, but by gosh, it is a tree! I think I'm getting the feel of the acrylics.

Now I want to start really playing.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Greytone study: Old Corner Maple

Old Corner Maple
acrylic on matboard, 6x6 in.

I decided to just do some casual studies for a while when I am working with acrylics. Today I laid out some black and white, mixed up a series of greytones, and did this small, quick study of the old maple at the corner of my property, using a single largish brush. This was done on a piece of matboard, sealed, gessoed, and lightly toned with a glaze of terra rosa to give it a little warmth.

There may be hope yet.

Had a great 4th of July. Friends and family joined me for the parade, and we had a great spot on the island with the Civil War memorial. Brandon has one of Vermont's best (and longest) home-town style parades, very famous-- so many people come from all over every year that the village swells with crowds and every side street is crammed with cars.

The Brandon parade has never been rained on or rained out. It looked for a while that this year might be a first: as people assembled, it started drizzling. But our record held. Just as the parade was announced, the sky began to clear, and by the time the parade reached us, it was bright and sunny.

Afterward, we all headed back to my house for potluck and conversation and at the end of the afternoon, lots of hugs.

Hope your holiday, whichever one you celebrate this time of year, was as rewarding.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Playing around with acrylics

July Sunset
acrylic on matboard, 5x7 in.

This one was from a photo I'd taken of a beautiful volcanic sunset a few evenings ago (one of the few days this summer with an actual sunset instead of a gradual deepening of grey). The first one I tried was a throw-away. Then I did another and this time worked quickly, letting the paint happen. A little progress. At least recognizable.

I don't know why I am struggling so much with acrylics. They just feel so different both from my oils and from what I remember from painting with the acrylics I used as a painting student long long ago (I think I last painted with acrylics when Nixon was President). I was in a state of total frustration, ready to give the things away. I even completely wiped off a canvas (it was a humid day, so most of the paint actually came off).

But, being a Stratton, I am stubborn and hate to give up. I may eventually choose not to work in acrylics, but dang-nab it, I want it to be a choice, not a throwing in of the towel!

I had made a stack of sealed and gessoed matboard pieces to use for plein air (which is what I got the acrylics for, too, so I wouldn't have to carry wet oil panels). Instead I put the matboard pieces on my easel this week, and just began slapping paint on. After a while, I found that I began to get a feel for this paint. No real keepers yet, but I'm feeling more optimistic. After all, I did dozens of these when I began oils. More than that back when I began using pastels. And of course, there's that box of peculiar looking fused glass in my glass shop....

This one that began with me playing with the blobs of paint left on my palette. It was kind of fun, so I put out a little more paint and played until this emerged. I don't know what it is, but it reminds me of desert flowers after a rain, or an estuary bottom full of colorful life. Maybe a pile of my granddaughter's clothes. Just color and shape and fun. After doing this one, I at least felt I'd learned something about how I need to work with this paint.

Playing with Color
acrylic on matboard, 5x7 in.